United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)


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United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

  1. 1. Statement by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Grégoire de Kalbermatten, Deputy Executive Secretary Prepared for the Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction Geneva, Switzerland 16-19 June 2009 The UNCCD welcomes the 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction and echoes the challenges observed by the UN Secretary General in his call for more information and filling the gaps on drought particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where drought and land degradation are associated with major disaster impacts, migration, conflicts and poverty outcomes. DLDD is related in many ways to various forms of natural disasters such as dust storms, flash floods, flooding or forest fires. But I shall focus this intervention on drought. There is a need to characterize the losses in the agricultural sector and rural areas and provide more accurate estimates of global risk including urban drought scenarios in the expanding mega-cities. Drought can occur anywhere. It develops slowly with the most vulnerable being on the one hand, the poor rural households, and on the other, the crowded urban dwellers. As a natural phenomenon the occurrence of drought is impossible to 1
  2. 2. control, although the resulting impacts can be mitigated through early warning and risk management strategies as outlined in the Hyogo Framework for Action which is now complemented by the new UNCCD 10-year Strategic Plan 2008-2018. There is a fervent need to immediately start changing the approach to drought events. The world can no longer afford to be reactive, developing only crisis management strategies. It is urgent that concerned entities begin to elaborate drought and land degradation management plans with specific measures, which are based in a risk management approach. Drought episodes are becoming more frequent, and countries that have never faced this challenge before have to be prepared to deal with it. To this end, the UNCCD is accelerating its collaboration with UN-SPIDER and other partners in the development of a global drought portal under the UNCCD 10-year Strategy. The UNCCD is actively encouraging the creation of international, national and regional observatories of droughts, in order to further collect data and analyze the conditions of water resources to prevent drought impacts. Future drought risk management mechanisms should be aligned with both the HFA and the new UNCCD 10-year Strategy. Climate change forecasts, which point out a decrease in precipitation and a rise in temperature foresee an increase in the number and intensity of 2
  3. 3. these phenomenon, especially in areas already experiencing water scarcity. The UNCCD also looks forward to partnering with the WMO in its future work on the Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System in order to advance capacity building in Africa and Asia with regard to sand and dust storms. Drought does not recognize political or administrative boundaries. The UNCCD encourages States to ensure dialogues, exchange views on how to manage drought and land degradation situations and to develop common mechanisms to prevent damaging impacts while protecting hydrological ecosystems. The UNCCD urges the ISDR to begin a process of expanding its advocacy work on early warning systems which targets the reduction of the certain economic, social and environmental effects of droughts and land degradation. As only a short 5 years remain for the Hyogo Framework it is time to fill the gaps in disaster risk reduction and turn our attention to national drought planning and management and the creeping disasters that are occurring on the land. Finally, allow me to recall that the 17th of June is World Day to Combat Desertification 2009 and I am pleased to celebrate it on the occasion of this important gathering. Its theme is relating DLDD to public security issues under the motto “Conserving land and water = securing our common future”. During his 3
  4. 4. address before the Land Day, which took place during the Climate meeting on the 6th of June in Bonn, Geoffrey Sachs highlighted how significant this correlation is. The Secretariat produced a study entitled “Securitizing the ground, grounding security” presenting how the notion of soil security is a geo political factor for prosperity and peace. For concluding 17th June comments check against delivery. 4